Accra, Ghana, 13th August 2017
More than 20 regional experts in political affairs, gender, the media, civil society and development issues, began an intensive training in Accra, Ghana on Sunday 13th August 2017, to deepen their knowledge on ECOWAS Long-Term Election Observation guidelines and methodology.
A joint effort by the ECOWAS Commission and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), the objective of the workshop is to strengthen the capacity of ECOWAS Long-term electoral observers and staff of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) to serve as Core Team members during poll observation missions.
Addressing the participants, Dr. Remi Ajibewa, Director of Political Affairs at the ECOWAS Commission, noted that “for the ECOWAS region, elections have become a litmus test for peace, security and stability, characterised by threats and challenges, especially disputation of poll results.
“A well-managed election can promote democracy, good governance, human rights and development, while a badly managed or flawed election is a recipe for political instability, insecurity, threat to human rights and democracy,” he added.
According to him, elections are not only complex, but also an expensive and necessary enterprise, adding that free, fair and credible elections have become an inevitable barometer for the measurement of democratic process and good governance.
He therefore urged the participants, who had served in previous ECOWAS election observation missions to bring their diversified experiences and share knowledge on best practices, particularly in Report writing and analysis of the political and electoral contexts of their countries of deployment.
“The task of a long-term election observer entails great responsibility since his/her conduct could either add value or undermine the electoral process,” the director stressed.
The EISA Director for Somalia Field Office, Justin Doua, presented an overview of the training which covers among others, the International and Regional benchmarks of election observation, Concepts and Principles in Election Observation, Structure of ECOWAS Election Observation Missions, Roles and Responsibilities of Long-term Observers’ Terms of Reference and Code of Conduct. Other aspects are LTO reporting Templates and Report writing, Guidelines for LTO field work and Preparations for Short-term Election Observation Missions’ arrival.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Francis Oke, Head of ECOWAS Electoral Assistance Division and Permanent Secretary of ECONEC, underscored the importance of the role of the Long-term Election Observers’ Core Team to the integrity of election observation
He noted that the ECOWAS Commission started the deployment of Short-Term election observation missions to its member States holding from 2001.
To professionalise and improve on the process, the long-term approach was added in 2014, with the support of development partners. This is with the purpose of making the observation more comprehensive, and also to allow observers to cover key aspects of the electoral cycle – pre-election, Election Day and the post-election period.
ECONEC was also set up in February 2008, to promote credible elections in the region by encouraging the gradual harmonization of electoral legislation and best practices through experience-sharing and peer learning of good practices in electoral mattes.